Conservationists have warned that the death of the last male northern white rhinoceros in Kenya is a sign that unsustainable human activity is driving a new era of mass extinctions around the globe.

Sudan, the “gentle giant” who lived in the Ol Pejeta conservancy in Kenya, was put down on Monday after the pain from a degenerative illness became too great.

It leaves only two females - his daughter and granddaughter - through which conservationists hope they might save the species from dying out altogether using IVF.

The tragic death of Sudan the rhino should act as a warning of the need to act to prevent mass extinctions around the world

Colin Butfield, campaigns director at WWF, said the death of a such an emblematic creature was a profound tragedy - and highlighted a wider crisis.

“There is undoubtedly a huge extinction crisis going on of which this death is just a small part,” he said.

Since 1970 average populations of vertebrate animals have more than halved, according to Butfield, and an estimated 10,000 “less celebrated” species are becoming extinct every year.

Read more about endangered Rhinos by Matthew Taylorand Hannah Ellis-Petersen at The Guardian.